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Interpol

Spirit, Dublin, 13 October 2002

Often if a band comes out of nowhere, like The Strokes seemed to, their surrounding musical community is snapped up by salivating A&R Men with dollar signs in their eyes. There's money to be made if you're from New York, can hold a guitar and wear a skinny tie.

Interpol from New York (Photo by Michael Edwards)That brings us nicely to Interpol. From New York, they forsake punk influences for a more varied New Wave sound. They may dress like the offspring ofThe Cure and Joy Division, but there are hints of the snapping tension of Magazine and the vulnerability of The Wedding Present tonight.

For the band's first visit to Ireland touring their 'Turn on the Bright Lights' debut album, Spirit is too big a venue. There's a cavernous gulf between stage and crowd due to the optimistic promoter's choice of hall. Still, as the opening reverb drenched notes of 'Untitled' echo slowly around Spirit an atmosphere establishes itself, one of Interpol's detachment. "I will surprise you sometime / I'll come around" drawls singer Paul Banks, hinting at the possibility of what's to come.

What comes is a reward for the hardy few hundred who make their way here tonight. The drone of 'Untitled' gives way to 'Obstacle 1', a brilliantly crafted piece of gothic new wave. Guitarist Daniel Kessler picks and stabs at his guitar in a way that would make Television proud. Across the small stage stands bassist Carlos D. He may sport the most ridiculous fringe seen since Suede's Brett Anderson, but he coaxes Peter Hookesque bass lines with ease from his guitar.

What's also impressive is the lack of repetition in the songs. The verse-chorus-verse formula that can plague bands isn't evident here. Songs like 'Stella was a diver and she was always down' twist and turn unpredictably, keeping things fresh. Despite songs breaking the dreaded five-minute length, they always managed to hold the punter's interest.

Then there's the Lou Reed-like confessional 'Hands Away'. It begins in eerie quietness and builds on Banks' bleak voice and skeletal guitar with a frail intensity. Even 'NYC', gratingly like U2 on record breathes and grows tonight. As Interpol play on with their air of icy detachment, they draw the audience in more and more.

By the time 'Obstacle 2' is played the audience are almost falling onto the stage, huddled around intimately. They're hanging on every word and doing that weird dancing-but-not-quite-dancing that could only have stemmed from the '80s. This prompts the previously silent (at least between songs) Banks to name the bond between band and audience 'a beautiful thing'

So tonight ends in triumph, but for now as with any young band, Interpol are a product of their influences. When they outgrow their musical forefathers things could get really interesting.

Paddy McDonnell

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